• The Feminist Times


Virginity has always been considered something very

consequential, across cultures and generations. However,

“virginity” is not a medical term. Instead, it is conceptual,

i.e., a social construct because sexuality is mostly shaped

by social processes at the individual and cultural level.

When we have sex for the first time, we do not actually

lose anything. It does not revamp our identity; it is neither

a life-altering milestone nor does it affect our stature. It is

simply a novel life experience. Some people interpret

virginity as a gift, others as a stigma while some people

plump for the idea of looking at it as a process. It is

important to dispel the myths and deconstruct the ideas

surrounding the traditional cognizance of ‘virginity.’ This

requires us to trace back to the birth of the term.

It has been found that the term “virginity” has a Greek

origin. However, because of virgin Mary, it got equated with

purity and chastity implying that a woman could only carry

“god” in her womb if she was “pure.” This definition came

to express itself in a patriarchal society wherein men began

to seek “pure” and “virgin” women to bear their children.

This shows that virginity is a harmful social construct

created by purity culture to control women’s sexual

expression and autonomy. Thus, the very concept of

virginity is grounded in patriarchy and has no scientific


Secondly, the very foundation of the concept of virginity is

based on the tearing of hymen, which is ironically a myth.

The hymen is a membrane surrounding the vaginal

opening. Hymens are thick on birth, however, that thick

lining wears over time. The myth is that an intact hymen

determines someone’s virginity and that a torn hymen

indicates that someone has had sex already. Tears in the

hymen can occur through sports play, inserting tampons,

and masturbation. Even if someone has not had sex yet,

they can still have a “torn” hymen. This only further proves

the vanity of using the concept as a means to ascertain

someone’s worth because its so-called biological

foundation is not only biased against women, but is also


Furthermore, the juxtaposition of the perception of virginity

in our modern society is especially interesting as it seems

to vary across generations and across genders. For

example, on one hand, virginity is still seen as the pinnacle

of purity for young people in India when it comes to

marriage. Most members of gen X and gen Y till date

support the regressive idea of the necessity of women to

be virgins at the time of marriage. Young vagina owners

are conditioned to believe that they will be deemed

“useless” and “overused” if they have sex before marriage

or that with multiple partners. Another misconception that

is popular among the masses is that there must be vaginal

bleeding and pain if a woman is having sex for the first

time, as it “shows” the partner that they were a virgin. This

is accompanied by a blatant double standard since penis

owners are not held accountable for staying “pure” until

marriage. Vagina owners are shamed if they have multiple

sexual partners, while penis owners are celebrated for the

same. What makes this hypocrisy worse is the desperation

with which Indian men go on to seek a “virgin” wife to

settle down with. Another unfortunate concomitant

contradiction is seen in cases of rape, wherein rape victims

are told they “lost their virginity to a rapist.” This view

implies that rape is seen as sex and not as a violent non-

consensual act. Victims are made to feel worthless

because someone “took” from them what belonged to their

“husbands” which further insinuates that women’s bodies

do not, and will possibly never truly belong to us. This

regrettable notion about sex and virginity happens to

contrast the one that is held by members of the recent

generations, that paradoxically are of the opinion that

having sex early means attaining a predominant life

milestone which translates into a sexually active young

adult being perceived “cool” or “experienced.” For

example, young boys ostentatiously use terms like “chad”

to refer to themselves thus taking pride in the fact that they

have been sexually involved with multiple girls which gives

them a more “respectable” ranking among their peers and

makes them feel superior or more manly or than others.

This is followed by toxic tendencies such as shaming other

peers that are not sexually experienced by a certain age

which directly or indirectly puts pressure on them to

almost desperately seek someone to be physically involved

with and get rid of the virginity label in order to be

perceived as “cool” by their peers. This is an example of

casual virgin shaming and it is way more normalised and

common than it should be. Teenagers tend to give

needless importance to something that is merely a man-

made concept so much so that they base their personality

or identity on wanting to be sexually active which

manifests as an unhealthy expression of their sexual

desires that may go on to interfere with their personality

development in future.

Most importantly, the conventional definition of virginity is

completely heteronormative. According to the definition,

one loses their virginity when they have penetrative,

vaginal sex with a penis. This ignores the preferences,

desires and lived sexual experiences of many people. In

doing so it enforces a very particular heteronormative idea

of sex and relationships on society. This further alienates

the queer community and deems the value of sex within the

LGBT community as not legitimate. Therefore, sex should

be redefined as anything that makes someone feel

sexually aroused. This means that sex doesn't just have to

be between a man with a penis and a woman with a vulva.

It can take place between people of varying genders - the

same or different to each other. It can take place between

people with different or the same types of genitalia, even

using different body parts.

From the foregoing points, it is evident that sex means

distinct things to distinct people and that there is no right

or wrong way to have it. Thus, “I lost my virginity” is a

phrase we need to stop using. There is nothing to lose

here, it is only a new experience that is gained. It is a

concept that was used to keep women in line and hence

needs to be discarded.

-Gurman Kaur Chawla

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